The Vervaeke Foundation Ecology of Practices (VFEoP)

DIME: The Meaning of Practice

An “ecology of practice” is a purposeful arrangement (“a logos”) of meaningful practices. It is an integrated network of activities designed to stimulate your mental, spiritual and physical sense of connection – i.e. the connection to yourself, to others, and to the world at large. Conventional intellectual learning is not sufficient for philia sophia, the project of loving and cultivating wisdom. This is a task that involves the whole of the person. It involves the body as well as the mind, requires movement as well as stillness. It adds sociability to solitude, and spontaneous creativity to methodical reasoning. As 4E cognitive science (and many of our spiritual traditions reaching back to antiquity) teach us, the categorical divisions that separate these domains are often illusory, and number among the general misconceptions that pervade modern thought. 

An ecology is a living system of relationships. There is no “panacea practice,” some perfect salve that will guarantee good perspective and sound action in daily life. The individual and her attention is a complex system of interrelated forces and influences, and requires an interrelated system of interventions to help gain balance, offset various biases, and create a tension of perspectives that help keep things in proportion. There are four ideal components of an ecology of practice, addressing different aspects of our cognitive complexion. 

Dialogue is not just a form of conversation. It is an existential mode, a way of standing in relation to other people, to oneself, and to the world. It opens us to novelty, to mystery, to the limits of our own awareness. This was one of the great innovations of the Socratic tradition; Dialogos is the way we learn about ourselves, find reflections that allow us to grow and develop, and listen more attentively to the unseen patterns around us. 

The “imaginal” is a term popularized by philosopher Henry Corbin. Unlike the imaginary, which conjures fantasy independent from reality, the imaginal uses images – and other impressions – to enhance perception and insight. Corbin’s imaginal world (or mundus imaginalis), drawn from the works of Islamic philosophers, is an order of reality that bridges between matter and spirit, the realm of imagination where we encounter the deeper patterns of being. “It is a function that permits all the universes to symbolize with one another.”

The term mindfulness is very prolific. It is often associated with Buddhist practice, such as in the Vipassana tradition.  But mindfulness can be used to describe various Western practices too. Ultimately, it involves the cultivation of attention. In meditation, we use techniques to scale and guide our attention to our own internal processes. In contemplation, we direct this attention to the people and patterns around us, such that we might develop deeper and more comprehending relationships with reality.

The mind is not simply an ethereal entity, or a brain floating in a vat. It is inseparable from our sensations, from our nerves and emotions, from the limbs and digits that make contact with the world. Any wisdom tradition must include this contact. Our practices must extend to the dynamics of the body in order to metabolize, to be made real. 

Continuity of practice is important, and building strong habits is essential to maintaining an ecology of practice. Just as any habit, these begin with playful, modest, and incremental exercises – a moment of stillness, a reflection on the day, a game that lets the imagination wander in ways that reveal those unseen forces inside of us. These seem like modest adjustments, but they can provide the space to alter our perceptions, to step back from confounding dilemmas, to make connections with people that hold a mirror to our lives. 

VFEoP is a program that attempts to access these various components, to provide a well-rounded pedagogy that supports the individual person in building these habits, and growing her own ecology. This program is not a belief system or doctrine. It can be helpful to used to inform any religious background that a person brings to it. It is a system of tools, a set of instruments we can learn to play. Its usefulness is for each person to discover. 

The VF EoP Program

The program consists of 6 practice sessions, rotating on a weekly basis. These sessions are:

One of the biggest areas of neglect in most people’s ecology of practices is in embodiment. Also generally one of the most challenging sessions to offer in an online classroom is also Embodiment. Fortunately we have found practitioners who do this well and one of them, Seth Dellinger, is offering the “Somatic Inquiry” practice for these sessions. 

In these sessions you only need a small amount of physical space from which to work with and inquire into the experience your body is having. Movements here are slow and encourage care and patience and therefore accessible to most.

Embodiment sessions take place on Mondays at 12:00pm/Noon Eastern Time for a period of 90 minutes (including a Q&A).

AR is the practice of making our in the moment expressions more accurately reflect our inner experience, but also learning the discernment of what to share and what not to, from a place of choice rather than reactivity. It’s in this place we can be more compassionate with ourselves and others.

While AR practice tends to touch across the four domains of DIME, these sessions tend to work heavily in the Dialogue, and Mindfulness domains. 

Authentic Relating sessions take place on Tuesday at 12:00pm/Noon Eastern Time, for a period of 60-90minutes

PF is a small-group practice borrowed from the monastic scriptural and communal reading practice of Lectio Divina. PF allows us to come into closer contact – cultivating an emergent and collective perspective – with a segment of a philosophical text that is provided during the session.

These sessions touch heavily on Mindfulness and Dialogue.

Philosophical Fellowship sessions take place on Wednesday at 12:00pm/Noon Eastern Time, for a period of 90 minutes 

This is a recorded, basic guided meditation practice provided by John Vervaeke. In this session John will guide you through proper seating position, how to ‘center’ yourself and how to ‘root’ yourself for meditation.

This session primarily addresses the Mindfulness and Embodiment domains.

This session is recorded and can be accessed wherever you’re able to fit your sit into your weekly practice habit.

This is a guided large-group practice session where we deepen and develop our imaginal muscles. In these sessions we’ll warm ourselves up into an orientation of intentional surrender to access a state of flow in a potent imaginal experience, closing out with some present moment integration and contemplative action steps for the rest of your day.

This session primarily focuses on the Imaginal and Embodiment domains.

Socratic Imaginal Self Reflection sessions take take place on Thursday at 12:00pm/Noon Eastern Time, for a period of 90 minutes

DiD is a small-group practice, reverse engineered from the socratic practice of dialectic where participants make in-the-moment proposals and explorations of a virtue. When done well, DiD allows us to move from a practice of collective intelligence into one of collective wisdom.

DiD practice sessions take place on Fridays at 12:00pm/Noon Eastern Time, for a period of 90 minutes. You must read the orientation guide section on DiD prior to attending a DiD session as there is no space to reintroduce the practice from a newcomer level. 

Orientation Guide & Session Design

Upon successful registration of your subscription you’ll receive access to the Orientation Guide. Due to the structure of the program, sessions are designed to provide the minimal amount of instruction such that practitioners can arrive on time, do their practice and move on with their day. Therefore the guide contains all the information you should need to know to engage with the program sessions in this way. Please review this guide and the video clips referenced within prior to attending your first session. However please note it is mandatory that if you have not actively participated in a facilitated DiD practice session that you read that section prior to attending these sessions as this practice contains a lot of structure and roles and often takes 30-40 minutes to set up for newcomers. 

Please note, some sessions might include some space for extended sharing and/or Q&A. Please note that these portions are optional, and once the core practice has been completed, participants are free to check-out into the chat and end their session for the day. For those who have something they feel needs to be said about their experience – general feedback should be kept to the feedback form – or have clarifying questions about the practice and/or their experience are encouraged to participate in these sections.

Commitment & Registration

You can start the program at any time!

Sessions run Monday to Friday, 12-noon Eastern Time. They are offered on a ‘drop-in’ basis, meaning you do not have to, nor do we expect everyone to attend every session. This also means we aren’t structuring any current or upcoming session to be dependent on attendance to a previous session. Now, because the experiences you have in each session should compound, in an ideal world, everyone would attend every session, however we’ll just have to make due with our finitude. Find what works for you. The subscription is priced such that even if you can only make a handful of the (avg 20-22) sessions in a given month, you’re probably still well ahead financially against other drop-in practice offerings.

Fee: $90USD/month (New Registrants can enjoy a 1 week Free Trial) – Subscription renews automatically and can be managed through PayPal.

Registration Process for PayPal Subscription and ATM VF EoP Program Account

Note: If you are an active Patreon member and have a coupon code, please be sure to use the link provided in the posting on Patreon for your tier to ensure your subscription is charged at the proper amount that reflects your Patron tier. For everyone else, please proceed.

Here’s what you should expect during this process. Please note: Some people have had difficulty with completing the process using the Firefox browser. We’re looking into this.

  1. Click the PayPal Subscription button below.
    • You should see a PayPal popup in the middle of your screen for you to log-in to your PayPal account.
  2. Once completed, you should be taken to an account completion page.
    • If, for whatever reason, you do not find yourself there, you should receive an email from “Awaken to Meaning” with the subject of “Complete your Registration” to complete the setup of your account.
  3. Once you have completed the account setup, you should be able to log-in, if the system doesn’t automatically do it for you.
  4. Once logged in, you can view, from the menu above “VF EoP” -> “Subscriber Resources” to find all the materials you need for the program.
  5. If you have any problems completing this process, please use the contact form under the “Contact” menu item above and we’ll assist.